Buzzfeed in the UK: are kittens, owls and boy bands the media's future?

The UK launch of BuzzFeed promises more fun fluff that attracts 40 million hits a month. Oscar Williams-Grut reports

Any hip 20-something who logs on to list-loving social media site BuzzFeed tomorrow – and thousands around the world do daily – they will notice something a little different.

Alongside pieces like "29 Baby Animals George W Bush Should Paint Next" and "Cats Offering Helpful Advice To Lindsay Lohan" will be "The Autocorrect Map Of Britain" and "18 Weird And Wonderful British Foods You Need To Try".

Monday marks the launch of BuzzFeed UK, the first overseas office of the wildly popular American website that has been hailed as either the death knell or the future of the media.

Founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti, who was also one of the brains behind Huffington Post, BuzzFeed calls itself the "first true social news organisation" and specialises in "shareable content". In practice, this means lists of cute animals, photos of celebrities and lots of nostalgia.

The formula has proved wildly successful, so that the company has been valued at $200m (£130m), and in January BuzzFeed raised $19.3m to expand to London, a move its president, Jon Steinberg, called "the natural next expansion" as, after the US, most traffic comes from Blighty.

"We're not radically reinventing what BuzzFeed does," says Luke Lewis, the UK editor. "We're taking all the stuff that's done phenomenally well in the US and just giving it a British spin."

From his London office, Lewis and the three other members of the UK team have been working on what this means in practice.

"There's going to be a lot to do with nostalgia – one of the first posts we're publishing is looking at Nineties boy bands and where they are now," says Lewis, formerly the editor of NME.com. "We'll also be doing a fair bit on animals which is one of the things BuzzFeed is known for. There are lots of British animals that they've never written about: foxes, badgers, owls."

It may not sound like the forefront of the press but it is content like this that has helped the US site record over 40 million views a month. BuzzFeed, which has around 70 editorial staff in the US, recently branched into long-form and political journalism, but Lewis says the UK office won't be doing anything similar, for now at least.

"The idea is for it to be based on pop culture and British obsessions," he says. "The one article we've already published is bizarre cover lines from British real life mags like Take a Break. We're just finding corners of British culture that are funny and entertaining." It is this cultural focus that Lewis thinks will help BuzzFeed UK avoid the kind of damp squib debut suffered by Peretti's first venture, the Huffington Post.

Lewis says BuzzFeed's audience is "20-somethings obsessed with pop culture and immersed in the social web", a demographic with obvious appeal for advertisers. The US site has pioneered paid-for advertorials that are designed to be shared just like its regular content. But the UK operation will be purely editorial.

"The commercial side of it is further down the line," Lewis says. "The idea is just building up an audience and spreading the word of BuzzFeed in the UK. It's a fairly unpressured environment."

Lewis accepts that fluffy animals and advertorials might not be everyone's idea of the future of the media. "We're not here to tell anyone else how to do anything," says Lewis. "BuzzFeed has its own way of doing things. I wouldn't presume to tell anyone else what to do."

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone